A woman was rescued from the Rimrocks early Sunday morning amid wind, snow and ice that created the worst conditions some responders on the rescue have ever encountered.
It was about 7:10 a.m. when the Billings Fire Department was dispatched to an area of the Rims after someone nearby had reported hearing yelling. Fire officials on scene said that residents of a neighborhood below had heard a woman screaming for help.
Firefighters and police eventually found a female person on a ledge, where she was suffering from multiple contusions and dealing with rib, hip and femur pain, according to Battalion Chief Ed Regele. Based on the injuries, it appeared the person had fallen, the battalion chief said.
Not long after the responders reached the injured person and determined a “steep angle raise” rescue was appropriate, weather conditions began to deteriorate significantly. Snow was coming down rapidly, winds were gusting and footing was uncertain.
“The terrain had been coated in water and then subsequently froze,” Regele said.
The injured person was put on a stretcher, strapped into a Stokes basket and along with a rescuer was lifted up along the vertical rock face.
The battalion chief was not on scene because he was part of a response to a fire that began in the office of a residence on the 3800 block of Towhee Lane, but he said that the incident commander on scene and others who responded described the conditions as some of the worst they have encountered on any incident.
Regele said the rescue took place along an area of the Rims above Granite Avenue. Responders initially weren’t sure if the best approach would be help the injured person down the Rims or to bring her up, which Regele said isn’t an uncommon predicament in these types of rescues.
Firefighters and at least one police officer reached the injured person by climbing up from below and determined that hauling her up was the best way to complete the rescue. A rescuer was hauled up with the injured person.
By the time the rescue had been completed the three remaining responders who had climbed up the Rims to reach her could not safely go back down.
“Everything had iced up rather significantly,” Regele said.
The responders were eventually lifted off the Rims ledge. Regele said that crews finally cleared the scene shortly after 10 a.m.
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